Proverbs 4:25-27

Proverbs 4:25-27 "Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee. Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established.  Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil."
Buffalo NY Baptist Church
In the final verses of chapter four, Solomon gives his son some of his best but hardest-to-follow advice.  To understand the essence of this advice, verses twenty-five through twenty-seven should not be separated.  In these three verses, Solomon instructs his son to do a multitude of things; six things to be exact.  In verse twenty-five, Rehoboam is instructed to let his eyes look right on and also to let his eyelids look straight before him.  In verse twenty-six, he is told to ponder the path of his feet and let his ways be established.  Finally, in verse twenty-seven, Solomon’s son is charged to turn not to the right hand nor to the left.  He also told in that verse to remove his foot from evil.  The closing counsel of this chapter is one of FOCUS, something that is harder the younger a person is.    
Summed up in a few words, these verses essentially say, “Watch Your Step!”

By telling his son first to “look right on,” Solomon was telling his son to use his mental eyesight to find that which was right in life.  He wasn’t to just have his eyes open to everything and anything.  He wasn’t to just look up or look out – he was to “look RIGHT on.”  To “look right on,” one needs to see that which is right in a world with much wrong and with many moral options.  Naturally then, once that which is “right” is seen, it should be pursued and a path of righteousness should be chosen.  Such a wise decision leads to Solomon’s second instruction for his son, which was to let his eyelids “look straight before” him.  Anyone reading this verse should ask how it is eyelids can look anywhere, let alone straight.  Eye-LIDS cover the eyes from seeing.  How then can they “look straight?”  Eyelids look straight when eyeballs look down.  When we look down at our feet, our eyelids come down most of the way to protect our eyes.  It is then and only then that eyelids look straight.  Again, the counsel of these closing verses is one of FOCUS.  It takes focus to find the right path in life and it takes focus to stay on the right path in life.  

Solomon continued to emphasize the need for focus when telling his son to ponder the path of his feet.  It wasn’t good enough to just look down at the path he was taking – he needed to think about the path he was traveling.  Success in life requires thought and it requires thought on a consistent basis.  We need to think about the choices we make and where they may lead us.  We need to think about the decisions we’re making and where they will take us.  We need to constantly give serious thought to the path we’re on to make sure that we’re on the right path.  The line that separates right from wrong is incredibly thin.  The line that separates love and hate is razor thin.  The line that stands between obedience and disobedience is not wide at all.  It takes but one step to get off the right path and get on the wrong path.  Only when we put thorough thought into the path of our feet will our “ways be established.”  With the tendencies of the flesh in a world of wickedness, heading in the right direction doesn’t happen by accident nor does it happen easily.  Solomon wanted his son to establish his way and to solidify his direction.  To do this, Rehoboam would have to constantly and sincerely evaluate the path he was taking so as to make sure he stayed on the right path.

The fifth element of this closing counsel communicates the need for FOCUS better than any other element of the passage – “turn not to the right hand nor to the left.”  This portion of the passage is what makes the advice so hard to follow.  In our world, there are so many distractions and attractions to see.  In our flesh, there is a gigantic appetite for pleasure and an excessive curious nature to feed that appetite.  Add the Satanic influence to these facts and it becomes extremely difficult to FOCUS on the path of our feet.  Like Peter on the Sea of Galilee, it was near impossible for him to focus on the path to Christ with the whirling winds at his right hand and the wavy waters at his left hand.  On the right hand of the path of righteousness, there is billboard after billboard advertising the pleasures of this world.  On the left hand of the wise way, there is salesman after salesman selling enticing products and pleasures.  On the right hand of the right road, “lights, camera, action” distract us.  On the left hand of the holy highway, “silver and gold” attract us.  A lack of focus on the path of thy feet will lead to a departure from the right path.  

There are consequences for a lack of FOCUS.  When I was a boy, I learned these consequences the hard way while playing baseball with my brother and neighbor.  After retrieving a ball, I decided I was going to run back to the field of play while looking to my left hand where my neighbor’s mother was riding a lawn tractor.  In my little mind, I was going to speed back into the field of play before she got to the field of play.  Indeed, I sped but I didn’t get back into the field of play before my neighbor’s mother.  In fact, I didn’t even get back into the field of play because I ran smack dab into the middle of a tree.  Seeing stars and feeling warmth in my hands, I realized blood was pouring out of the nose that met an immoveable object.  One broken nose later, a valuable lesson was learned – running in a direction while looking in another is a dangerous thing to do.  Spiritually-speaking, we can’t afford to turn to the right hand nor to the left.  We need to see where we’re going and we need to watch our step!

The sixth and final piece of advice Solomon gave Rehoboam (and anyone reading the passage) was to “remove thy foot from evil.”  To some, this final instruction may seem out of place.  Why would someone remove their foot from evil if they’re taking the right path?  What place does evil have on this right path?  Why is it even mentioned?  There is no such thing as a sinless path in this life.  There is no such thing as a morally perfect path in this world. The best of directions have obstacles, roadblocks and pitfalls.  The best of people make mistakes, errors and sins.  Even on the right path, we will encounter someone else’s moral failure.  Even on the right path, we will step into something that we shouldn’t.  Even on the right path, we will make mistakes and others around us will make mistakes.  This is precisely why we have to be consistently and thoroughly looking “RIGHT on.”  This is precisely why we have to constantly and sincerely “ponder the path of our feet.”  This is why we can’t afford to turn either to the right hand nor to the left.  We need to see the evil we step in so we don’t carry it any further than we have to.  We need to see the evil we step in so we don’t slip off the right path.

I love to look around on my daily walks because I love to take in the scenery around me.  Unfortunately, there are consequences to lifting my eyes up from the sidewalk.  I’ve learned that I’m not the only one who walks that path.  There are other people who take that same path but more importantly, there are other creatures that take that same path.  I have found that other people don’t always clean up after those other creatures.  If I don’t ponder the path of my feet, I will step in evil.  If I do ponder the path of my feet, I may be able to remove my foot from evil before I track it into the house or into the mudroom.  If I ponder the path of my feet, I will be able to remove my foot from the second canine deposit after hitting the first one.

A casual approach to the direction we take in life will never produce moral success.  Success only comes with focus.  The younger a person, the greater the need for focus.  The younger a person, the harder it is to focus.  Every step, every decision, every choice in life must be thoroughly considered if we are to get on and stay on the right path.  This will take tremendous mental and spiritual focus.      

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